"Good writing is good writing. There should be no dumbing down for children, and certainly not for teens."

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Writing YA this NaNoWriMo holiday season?

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Here are two publishing pros weighing in on style and voice in the latest from Promptly’s Top 20 Tips From WD in 2010 series (the quote-worthy quips that branded themselves in my mind when we were creating these magazines throughout the year). A regular prompt follows. Fear the phonies.

No. 15: YA Voice Lessons
“I think teen readers are—and have
always been—a lot smarter and savvier than many give them credit for.
Today’s teens in particular tend to be remarkably mature, articulate and
pop-culturally aware. And I find that teens have an amazing radar for
inauthenticity—for 'phonies,' as our dear Holden Caulfield would put it.
So with all that in mind, I think YA readers really respond to an
authentic voice—one that doesn’t feel pandering or dumbed down in any
way. And if that voice is authentic—if it rings true and doesn’t try too
hard—I think YA readers are really open to wherever those voices can
range: from ones that are earnest and heartbroken, to wry, witty,
hilarious takes on life and love."

—Aimee Friedman (author, Scholastic senior editor), “YA Today,” by Jessica Strawser, May/June 2010 (click here to check the rest of the issue out)

“The line between YA and adult is very slight. While YA authors still need to be conscious that teens don’t have the life experience that adults do, the word choices, choice of topic, narrative skill, should be similar. I have always felt literature for children and teens should be evaluated on the same terms as adult literature. Good writing is good writing. There should be no cheapening or dumbing down for children, and certainly not for teens. And I suppose it’s like those great Disney movies; there can be a layer for the adult, a layer of meaning, humor, depth, that the younger readers won’t catch. Though the smarter ones always do."
—Stephen Fraser (agent, Jennifer DeChiara Literary), “YA Today”



Feel free to take the following prompt home or post a response (500
words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our occasional
around-the-office swag drawings. If you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece and the prompt to me at
writersdigest@fwmedia.com, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

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